Retailers offer incentives to lure rebate dollars

By Valerie Kiger

Haven’t made plans for how to spend your tax-rebate check? Businesses hoping to cash in on the federal government’s economic stimulus package are offering incentives for customers to use their checks for extra savings or bonus in-store credit.

On Monday, taxpayers began receiving $300 to $600, or up to $1,200 for married couples plus $300 per child for many families. Companies would like to see those dollars going directly into their cash registers, and some will add 5 or 10 percent to the value of gift cards purchased with the rebate checks. Others are offering discounts or special deals.

Rochester-area stores participating in tax-rebate promotions include Cub Foods and other SuperValu stores. Customers can purchase gift cards in $300 increments, up to $1,200, and receive an additional 10 percent value on each card. For example, purchase a $300 card and Cub will give you a card valued at $330.


"It’s just a way to stretch their dollar," said spokesperson Lee Ann Jorgenson. Customers can purchase any amount in $300 increments up to $1,200, even if their rebate checks are for greater amounts.

Sears stores, too, will give customers an extra 10 percent purchases of gift cards. Unlike Cub Foods, Sears requires customers to spend their entire rebate check on a gift card to receive the benefit, according to a USA Today report. The promotion runs from May 14 to July 19 and also is in effect at Kmart and Lands’ End stores. The card will carry no fees or expiration dates.

At Menard’s, customers can exchange their tax-rebate or income-tax refund checks for merchandise credit checks and receive an additional 5 percent in credit.

Those who receive rebates by direct deposit can bring in their bank statements to receive the extra in-store credit.

The Home Depot is matching the competition with its own 5-percent extra value deal.

Until May 4, Staples is offering $50 off purchases of $500 or more and $150 off furniture costing at least $1,000, in an effort to entice small-business owners to spend their rebates there. Also, Staples credit-card purchases of $500 or more made through June 30 will be interest-free with no required payment for six months.

Wal-Mart has not made an announcement regarding its plans but said it soon would announce its plans. ShopKo has not announced a special promotion, but always offers a 5 percent discount when customers buy a $1,000 gift card, according to a local manager.

Other retail companies with Rochester locations, including Gander Mountain and Lowe’s Home Improvement, are considering tax-rebate promotions.

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